School district monitoring flu

Parents urged to report symptoms


Mary Bailey
Community Editor

When you call the school to report your child’s absence, be sure to include the symptoms.

School districts need to know how many students have flu-like illness to report numbers to the state Department of Health.

Three or more flu-like cases in a single classroom triggers a report. This year in Forest Lake Schools, that has happened four times, twice before Christmas break and twice in January.

If 5 percent of the students in the district have flu symptoms, that also triggers a report.

In 2009 the district hit that number with the H1N1 virus, according to ISD 831 school nurse Darla John. But schools stayed open. Even though Minnesota is in the midst of a severe flu season and hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, John said it is unlikely schools will be closed.

“The Minnesota Department of Health recommends not closing schools,” she said.

Influenza  is caused by a virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. In addition to fever, sore throat and cough, flu symptoms can include headache, extreme fatigue, nasal congestion and body aches.

District parents will soon receive a flu symptom screening tool to help them determine whether to send kids to school.

Keep the child home if he has a fever of 100 degrees or higher, plus either sore throat or cough.

Do not let the child return to school until the fever has been gone, with no help from fever-reducing medication, for at least 24 hours. For many children, this may mean a week of no school.

The phone call to report absence should include a list of symptoms. Always report fever, sore throat or cough. If the child has strep throat, gastrointestinal distress, muscle aches, ear or eye infection, also state that on the phone message.

And be sure to mention pertussis: School districts are required to report each confirmed case.

Should your child get a flu shot? The state health department says everyone age 6 months or up should be vaccinated.

It’s not too late: Flu season typically goes through May.

Allina Health reports having enough vaccine.

Appointments can be made by calling the clinic or using MyChart online.

Adults can use e-Visits in MyChart instead of going to the clinic or urgent care, to avoid long waits and added exposure from other ill patients.

E-Visits are not available for children.